Honor the Fleet (inside) wins the Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel Park

Honor the Fleet (inside) wins the Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel Park

Jim McCue / Maryland Jockey Club

Honor the Fleet Proves Ability in Fire Plug Stakes

Alwaysmining, Victim of Love, Artful Splatter also won Jan. 18 at Laurel Park.

A patient ride from Alex Cintron helped Frank Demarco's Honor the Fleet score his first stakes win in the $100,000 Fire Plug Stakes Jan. 18 at Laurel Park.

Cintron positioned Honor the Fleet between horses, and the 6-year-old To Honor and Serve gelding waited for running room while sitting behind horses. Straightened for home, Honor the Fleet hooked up with Threes Over Deuces in a drive to the wire and dug in to win by a neck. The Louis Albertrani trainee completed 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.09 on a track rated good.

"We had a plan. Louis told me how to try to keep him in the clear and give the horse a nice, comfortable trip," Cintron said. "I didn't really have too much room on the backside. I had to keep inside the whole way, and I had to wait for the fence to open up. At the quarter pole, the horse on the lead just moved out, and I had a nice trip from there."

Threes Over Deuces was second. Tiz He the One took third.

The Fire Plug was the fifth win in 16 starts for Honor the Fleet, who went unraced for five months last year battling minor foot issues. He returned Nov. 23 at Laurel to win at the allowance level.

"He has so much ability, and he has run hard against some nice horses—Timeline , No Dozing—and he's very competitive," Albertrani said. "We've had a little bad luck with him over the last couple years battling abscesses in his feet and quarter cracks. We've solved all those problems, and he came back good his last race and showed incredible ability, so we thought, 'Let's take a shot in the Fire Plug and get 2020 off to a good start.'"

Video: Fire Plug S. (BT)

Victim of Love Holds On to Take What a Summer
Tommy Town Thoroughbreds' Victim of Love opened up down the lane in the $100,000 What a Summer Stakes and had plenty left to hold off Needs Supervision for a 9-1 upset. Last True Love finished third.

Ridden by Weston Hamilton for trainer Todd Beattie, Victim of Love ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18.02, beating Needs Supervision by 3 3/4 lengths.

"She's really hard-knocking, and she always tries really hard," Hamilton said. "I knew she had a little bit of fire in her; she's got a little speed. So I just sat against her nice, and she was good enough to get the job done."

"I felt very confident leaving the paddock and talking to Wes," Beattie said. "He knew the horse well. He had all the confidence that you could ask for. The filly just answered the bell."

It was the second stakes win for Victim of Love, who captured the Island Fashion Stakes at Sunland Park in February 2019.

Video: What A Summer S. (BT)

Alwaysmining Back to Winning Ways in Jennings
After a six-race win streak, Runnymoore Racing's Alwaysmining did not return to the winner's circle in five starts. On Saturday, he collared stubborn pacesetter Bustoff in midstretch and edged clear in the $75,000 Jennings Stakes against Maryland-bred or -sired horses.

The 4-year-old Stay Thirsty  gelding earned his eighth win, all at Laurel, and first over older horses. He ran his past 13 races under the Runnymede Racing banner, but owner Greg Bentley and his wife, Caroline, now race as Runnymoore Racing.

Ridden by Julian Pimentel for trainer Kelly Rubley, Alwaysmining completed one mile in 1:37.75. He crossed the wire 1 3/4 lengths in front. John Jones and Clubman completed the trifecta.

"He had a tough campaign last year. He did a lot of winning, which was spectacular, but then he deserved some time in the pasture and time to be a horse," Rubley said. "I think it's paying us back."

"It was just a great trip. The speed went, and I was right behind it," Pimentel said. "I took my time, and when it was time to go, I just pushed the button and he went on. I had a lot of horse the whole way around there."

Alwaysmining wins the 2020 Jennings Stakes at Laurel Park
Photo: Jim Duley//Maryland Jockey Club
Alwaysmining wins the Jennings Stakes

Video: Jennings S. (BT)

Artful Splatter Survives Objections to Win Geisha
James Wolf's Artful Splatter overcame an eventful trip and a pair of objections in her stakes debut to hand eight-time stakes winner and heavy favorite Anna's Bandit her first loss in seven races in the $74,250 Geisha Stakes.

Artful Splatter got her fourth consecutive win since being claimed for $16,000 last fall and moved to the dirt by trainer Kieron Magee. The 4-year-old Bandbox  filly completed the mile in 1:39.46 against Maryland-bred or -sired fillies and mares.

"She really is a nice filly," Wolf said. "I knew that my first stakes win would be difficult, but not this difficult."

In midstretch, Artful Splatter ducked out a few paths after her jockey, Cintron, went to the left-hand whip. She crossed in front of Anna's Bandit, who dove inside for the run but came up a half-length short.

Artful Splatter survived objections and a stewards' inquiry to maintain the win over runner-up Anna's Bandit. Enchanted Ghost was third.

"I feel like I had a ton of horse. My filly was moving very well," Cintron said. "I hit her once, and when I went to hit her a second time, she went out so quick and moved out a couple paths, but thank God we were clear enough to not bother the other horse. I know I crossed right in front of the other horse, but I don't think I cost her momentum. As soon as she felt the other horse coming, she kept fighting."

Video: Geisha S. (BT)